What is the sound of a blog without a blogger?

Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Parfait

Not long ago, a friend at work paid me a compliment. This friend is not a lawyer but reads a lot of legal writing as part of her job, including at least ten of my own briefs. She had read one of my reviews on Goodreads, and she said, you know, you're a really good writer-not just a good legal writer, but a writer. Not everyone can do that.

Most people (and most lawyers, good lord) don't practice writing for other people. . . NORMAL people, not lawyers, clerks, judges, or other professional logic hounds. My friend's praise was obviously flattering, especially considering she is (in my opinion) one of the smarter people at my office, but I had a logical explanation: practice. One of my majors in college was English and looking back at those papers my brain feels shrunken, so complex and focused and obtuse was some of that work. Maybe I was smarter back then, but I'm a better writer now, and it is, I think, 100% because of Fig and Plum.

People started blogs like mine all those years ago for different reasons, but community was a big one. Blogs and message boards like Craftster were proto-social networks for many (though they arguably made it easier to connect with strangers who shared your interests than Facebook or Twitter do today). Not to sound cold, but I didn't start Fig and Plum for community, although that was a wonderful and unexpected byproduct of this project. I've said this here before: I started this blog for myself. First, I wanted to catalog various projects. Ravelry and Pinterest and other tools do that much better now than a blog ever could. But second, I wanted to be a better writer and photographer. Even now, there is no substitute for the discipline a blog can impose for that purpose. When it's out there for who knows who, you want your words to be good enough to reach whomever. When your photos are out there, you want them to be good enough to please your readers and draw them in and enhance what you've written.

Here's the problem: my subject matter has withered. I work a lot. When not working, I'm trying to keep up with the rest of real life. There's a project bag next to my side of the bed, and I can't even remember what's in it. Sometimes I cook on weekends, when we have people over or need to make up a rough week to my husband, but that's it. In my spare time I try to see friends or go for a run or read a book because those are the bare minimum, activities I need to feel normal, and I don't even have time to do them any more than intermittently.

I never wrote here about my personal life or (heaven forbid) my work. I wrote about making. Ideas, successes, lessons learned. It's what I thought would be interesting and useful. Plus, putting my real life, inner or outer, on the Internet for everyone to see was always a little strange to me. It's true that I do have Facebook and Twitter accounts now, and put snippets of everyday there, but let's be honest: there isn't much substance. It's not that I don't have things to write about—I do—but they aren't public in the way knitting a sweater might be. They're journal material (incidentally, I don't keep one.) Some people fill this topical void by writing about or photographing their children, but I don't have any. (Although, there is always Moses). Bottom line: there isn't a lot of blogging material for someone in my position. I do miss it, but I'm not sure what to say. So I write the occasional book review on Goodreads and try to craft a clever little 140-character tweet and hope it's enough to keep in practice.

So is this still a blog when the blogger never writes, never calls, never visits? I don't know. I feel like I post the same thing at least once a year: I won't shut down the blog. Fig and Plum remains here even if no one reads it and its heyday as a blog is over. I'm hopeful, if unreasonably, that there will be periods in life in the future when i have things to say again and the discipline to say them here.

Until then, it's rhubarb season. Plenty of blogs have something to say about that. Maybe I will too, sometime soon :-)

Posted by jess at May 26, 2013 11:22 AM | TrackBack

It seems as if you are part of a trend. Many of the bloggers that I used to read almost daily have dwindled to just occassional posts. Sorry to see that happening. I enjoyed hearing about others thoughts, opinions, experiences, successes and frustrations. Facebook, Twitter, et al just can't provide the depth that a blog can.

Looking forward to the possibility of future posts. Best wishes-

Posted by: Norma at May 26, 2013 12:44 PM

I can totally relate to your post. I keep my blog for much the same reasons - not so much to connect, but to put a quality product out there, one which pleases the reader, even if there is a fraction of the readers now compared to 5 years ago. Blogging has given me a new appreciation for writing... for writing in a logical, clear way (at least I hope that's what I've achieved!). It has helped my writing elsewhere - everything from personal e-mails to grant submissions. And I don't care that my writing is so infrequent. When I launch my totally-outdated MT interface, I put as much thought (and spelling, and grammar, and thesaurus checks) into the infrequent posts as I did in the twice or thrice weekly ones way back when. I am keeping my blog forever, it is a document of my crafty pursuits AND of my writing AND of my photography.

Posted by: grumperina at May 26, 2013 1:04 PM

It's lovely to hear from you whenever the time and subject matter allows so I am relieved the blog lives on. I feel like my creativity is shoehorned into crevices these days but having my blog is another encouragement to do the shoe horning and bring some balance.

Posted by: Sarah at May 26, 2013 2:02 PM

... and when you do (find the time, or the discipline, or... whatever), I'll be here, as I bet a lot of others will be. Your writing is missed, as is the beautiful photography. Facebook and Twitter, in may opinion, are just so very different than blogs... but I can see how so many find it easier to just do that. I am so busy that keeping up with blogs is harder, but... then I guess it's good the good ones are posting just every so often!

Posted by: Anabella at May 26, 2013 7:23 PM

Hi, found your blog through Annie of Knitsofacto, and would just like to say that no matter how rare your posts are if you have connected to people through your words they will always return in the hope of finding that little gem again. I like you write mainly for me and just hope that some of what I do write makes someone smile or inspires them to have a go. Another lovely blogger once told me when I apologised again for my lack of posts,' if you blog because you feel you have to , it won't be you speaking, if you blog because you want to people will come back for more. I hope you pop back now and again so we can say hello.

Posted by: Winnibriggs House at May 27, 2013 3:55 AM

That is exactly what I feel about blogging. My main purpose for the majority of posts is to produce something like a magazine article that I would want to read. Sometimes life throws me a lot of suitable topics and sometimes it doesn't. Tying myself to a time schedule for posting would impose a discipline I don't wish to have for this activity. Like you, there is a lot happening in my life that is unlikely to ever make its way into a post.

Well said!

Posted by: The Hebe Bee at May 27, 2013 8:29 AM

Even if you post now occasionally, I still read you with pleasure for now many years. You're right not to stop because this blog is your blog for your enjoyment first... but also you have entered into our lives and if you stop, I really will miss you !
Go on, bon vent,
Anne (from France)

Posted by: Anne at May 27, 2013 3:18 PM

I have been struggling with this too lately, and I can't even blame my recent-ish newborn! Living your life and doing things with loved ones is the best excuse to be absent from a blog in my opinion. You're a great photographer and writer. Throw some of that in there if you feel inclined! I love seeing snippets about how others live their lives. Either way, I'm now craving strawberry rhubarb goodness...

Posted by: Marissa at May 28, 2013 9:41 AM

Wait, what? You forgo blogging in favor of actually living your life? Shocking!
But seriously, life is short and one needs to use one's limited free time judiciously. After all, if you don't use your time to do something, what would you have to write about or take pictures of anyway?
Live on!

Posted by: Elizabeth at May 29, 2013 11:28 AM

I will love your blog, no matter how infrequently you write. I think I've taken entire year breaks on mine. Life ebbs and flows. Enjoy it and document what you feel like.

Posted by: Cassy at May 29, 2013 1:53 PM

Add my voice to the chorus singing about how no matter how frequently or infrequently you post here, I will always click over if I see a notice of something from you. While I agree that good writing is a result of practice, I do not believe that it is solely a question of practice. The only evidence you need of that is the internet.

Posted by: amy at May 30, 2013 9:50 AM

Oh, Jess. This post shows just how radiant you are when it comes to putting words together.

You're a good writer not just because you're smart, but because, as you note re: practice, you're not a quitter *and* because you've got a lot of heart. We're lucky to have you in our lives—though the blog and however else—because of this and so many other reasons.

Whatever you do, you're always brave enough to put in the time to get things right and be inspiring. For that (among many other reasons), I look up to you and hope I grow up someday to get things together the way you do. Love you, gal.

Posted by: joy olivia at May 30, 2013 2:09 PM

Oh, I always seem to find something I like when it is dwindling. I have a couple of blogs as well and life does seem to get in the way of blogging. I started later than other, loved it and was then told it was growing "old" to blog, but I'm just not a quick person who jumps on something when it's new and shiny...I suppose Twitter is one of those things and even that feels like it's becoming "old" and who can fit anything in 140 characters? By the time I even hear about the latest social/writing medium it's usually already 1/2 way to being passe'. How do people keep up? I do like your blog even though I've only just found it, so I will keep popping back to read back posts. Hopefully you will still post occassionally and that would be nice. Just feel bad I'm coming in on the tail end of this, but that's the way it seems lately in the Internet world. Good luck.

Posted by: filmgal30 at May 31, 2013 5:19 PM

I like this blog a lot and I didn't know you were on goodreads, but I will look you up there because I think you'd read books I would be interested in.

Anyway, I get how you feel. I have started the same blog about 6 times but I haven't ever actually posted anything on it.

I'll keep checking back from time to time, in case you do post something, and in the mean time... enjoy the things that help you feel normal!

Posted by: Cynthia at June 2, 2013 12:34 AM

i've actually been reading this blog for years (possibly since 2006?!); i think i found it because i was making a yoga mat bag for myself in high school. later on it inspired many of my knitting projects. i think this might be my first comment. just wanted to say thank you and i'm so grateful for what you share. brava!

Posted by: Gabrielle at July 10, 2013 4:48 PM

I'm glad to see a post from you. Here's the odd part about reading this post: I was actually reading the ten-year-old archives of my old blog that is currently stored on my external hard drive. I clicked on an old link, and there you were. I'm glad that F&P is still here. I wish you the best.

-la chica alta a.k.a. the orchidophile

Posted by: orchidophile at July 31, 2013 12:55 PM

I love your posts, your knitting, your prose, your style. It's not so important how frequently you write. YOu are lovely. I totally understand your frustration about no time. I work a lot too and totally get it. THanks

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Hi. I started reading your blog about ten years ago...back when I was living in Belgium, knitting a lot myself, a bit lonely, also writing. Yours was always one of my favorite blogs for some reason, out of many (the nice balance of not being too public, but sharing all the same, the warmth and humor just right). I felt I should write and thank you for all your posts.

Work does take over, for all of us. I rarely read blogs anymore. But if I do, I check in here... actually about as often as you post! Still enjoying it.


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